Could you imagine if everybody in the NBA currently was in their primes? Just imagine the Lakers with prime Rondo and prime D12 to go alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis.
Think about teams that aren’t doing well right now and how much better their teams would be such as the Portland Trail Blazers with prime Carmelo Anthony or the Detroit Pistons with prime Derrick Rose alongside Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.
The NBA would look a lot different than it does currently and, in this article, we will be ranking the 5 best superteams from the last 20 years if everyone was in their prime.
5. 2011/12 Oklahoma City Thunder
This Oklahoma City Thunder team looks very deadly, but there is one big concern. The leader of this roster would be Kevin Durant. In his prime, KD was an MVP and is said by many to be the hardest player to defend in NBA history. KD is a 7-foot tall forward who has the handles of a guard and can score from anywhere on the court. The best season of his career was his MVP season in 2014 when he averaged 32 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game on a stellar 50.3% from the field, 39.1% from three, and 87.3% from the free-throw line.
Kevin is a sniper on the court and hasn’t averaged less than 25 points per game since his rookie year. We have never seen a player of his playstyle ever in the NBA and if it weren’t for LeBron James, Kevin Durant would be known as the best player in the NBA by many.
Russell Westbrook had an amazing 3-year stretch that we haven’t seen anyone do. From the 2016-17 season to the 2018-19 season, Russell averaged 26.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game. Before Russ, only one other player had averaged a triple-double for an entire season and that player was Oscar Robertson, over 40 years ago. Before these seasons, Russ was still an incredible player as he has yet to average less than 20 points per game in a season since his 2nd year. In his prime, Russ was a multi-time all-star, All-NBA player, and won the MVP award in 2017.
James Harden may be the best scorer out of the three. Since the 2015-16 season, Harden is averaging 31.5 points, 66 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game on 44.1% shooting from the field and 36% shooting from three. Harden has carried the Houston Rockets throughout his tenure there and they have always been so close to winning a championship. Since the 2015-16 season, Harden has won the MVP Award, made an All-NBA team 4 times, made an All-Star team 4 times, and has been the scoring champion twice. Also, Harden is a winner as, during his tenure with the Rockets, he has made the playoffs every single year.
This team also has a good frontcourt with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Serge Ibaka was a defensive juggernaut in his prime and from the 2010-11 season to the 2014-15 season, he averaged 2.8 blocks per game. Kendrick Perkins’s impact wasn’t seen in the box score but in his prime, he was a good, defensive center who played a big part in the Celtics’ success and many believe that if he had not gotten injured in Game 6 of the 2010 Finals and was able to play in Game 7, the Boston Celtics would have won the NBA championship that year.
Now, the biggest concern on this team is how they would all fit together. In their primes, Harden, Russ, and Durant are all ball-dominant players. Russell Westbrook and James Harden are 1st and 2nd, respectively, when it comes to the highest usage percentage in a season in NBA history. Kevin Durant would be fine in the situation as he is exceptional playing off the ball, but the same cannot be said for Harden and Russ.
During Harden’s MVP season, he shot a putrid 36.6% from the field on catch-and-shoot shots and 40.1% from the field and 32.5% from three when he hadn’t taken a dribble before a shot. It gets worse for Russ as on catch-and-shoot shots during his MVP season, Russ shot 35.9% from the field and 41% from the field and 33.7% from three when he didn’t dribble the ball before taking a shot. This is still an amazing team, but a lack of ball-movement could prove to be the downfall of this team.
4. 2017/18 Cleveland Cavaliers
This team is led by living legend LeBron James. Everyone knows how impactful and extraordinary LeBron James is and it feels like he has been in his prime since his second year in the NBA. Despite this, his best years were during his time on the Miami Heat where he won 2 MVPs, was an All-NBA player every year, made the All-Star Game every year, and won 2 championships. During his 4 years on the Heat, Lebron averaged 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on 54.3% from the field and 36.9% from the three. Not to mention, LeBron was an elite defender during this time period as he finished 2nd in DPOY voting in 2013 and finished 4th in DPOY voting in 2012.
LeBron’s teammates on this potential Cavs team are amazing also. Derrick Rose had a stellar but short-lived prime due to injuries. Rose had a historic 4-year stretch to start his career as from the 2008-09 season to the 2011-12 season, he averaged 21 points, and 6.8 assists on 46.4% from the field and became the youngest player ever to win the MVP award during the 2010-11 season when he averaged 25 points and 7.7 assists and led the Chicago Bulls to the 1st seed.
Dwyane Wade would be the 2nd best player on this team as he had several years of dominance in the NBA. From his 2nd NBA season to the 2010-11 season, Wade averaged 26.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 48.6% shooting from the field. During this stretch, Wade made the All-Star game every year, made an All-NBA team 5 times, and led the Heat to an NBA championship in 2006 against the Dallas Mavericks where he averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game.
A big three of Wade, Rose, and LeBron would be fantastic and the frontcourt of this team would the icing on the cake. The power forward on this team is Kevin Love. In his prime, Love was an animal on offense. From the 2010-11 season to the 2013-14 season, he averaged 23.5 points and 13.7 rebounds on 45% shooting from the field and 37% shooting from three. Love was also a multi-time All-Star and made an All-NBA team twice during this span.
The last player we will discuss on this team is Tristan Thompson. Unlike the others, Tristan’s career hasn’t been filled with accolades and historic play. Despite this, Thompson was vital to the Cavalier’s success during LeBron’s second stint with them and helped the Cavs win their first championship in franchise history.
The reason why this team is 4th is the fact that, despite the star power, this team lacks spacing. LeBron-led teams have always been at their best when LBJ is surrounded by 3-4 shooters, as seen on the Miami Heat and during his 2nd stint with the Cavaliers. On this team, the only shooter is Kevin Love. Dwyane Wade only shot over 31% from three once during his prime years (2004-05-2010-11) and Derrick Rose shot above 33% from three once in his first four years in the NBA.
3. 2018-19 Golden State Warriors
This Warriors team would be led by Stephen Curry. Curry has revitalized the game of basketball over the years due to his never-before-seen shooting abilities. Over the past 5 years, Curry has established himself as one of the best point guards of ALL TIME and has averaged 26.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game on 48.4% shooting from the field, 43.3% shooting from three, and 91.1% shooting from the free-throw line. Over these years, he made the All-Star game every year, made the All-NBA team multiple times, won 3 championships, and back-to-back MVPs, including a unanimous MVP in 2016 when he averaged 30.1 points on 50.4% shooting from the field, 45.4% from three, and 90.8% from the free-throw line while also leading the Warriors to the most wins in an NBA season with 73.
Klay Thompson is the shooting guard on this team and is a very good one. Klay has been the perfect co-teammate to Curry since he was drafted in 2011 with his combination of elite shooting and defense. Since 2014-15, Klay has averaged 21.6 points on 47.1% shooting from the field and 42.3% shooting from three and has been a vital part of the Warriors’ success. During this span, he has made the All-Star game every year, made the All-NBA team twice, and has won 3 championships alongside Curry.
The Small Forward on this team is Kevin Durant and as stated earlier, he is one of the greatest scorers ever. Standing at nearly 7 feet, KD has the ability to score from anywhere on the court and has handles similar to an NBA guard. His play will be important to this team’s success.
The frontcourt of this team is Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins. Draymond is a swiss-army knife for the Warriors and is another player who has been vital to the team’s success. His combination of playmaking and defense gives the team another player that they can count on and in his prime, Green was a multi-time all-star and won the DPOY award in 2017.
DeMarcus Cousins was seen as one of the best big men in the league in his prime. The 6’11 center played great during his time with the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans. From the 2013-14 season to the 2017-18 season, Boogie averaged 25.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists as well as shot 46.6% from the field and 34.8% from three. Also, he was a multi-time All-Star and All-NBA player in his prime.
The reasoning for this team being third is due to their paint defense. DeMarcus is 270 pounds and would be able to bang down low against opposing big men but, he isn’t agile enough to keep up with fast big men. He is a below-average pick-and-roll defender and despite his wingspan being comparable to that of Anthony Davis, an elite defender, he has yet to register more than 2 blocks per game for a season as Davis has.
2. 2010/11 Boston Celtics
Kevin Garnett was one of the best offensive and defensive players in the league during his prime. His best years were during his time on the Minnesota Timberwolves and between 1999-00 and 2006-07, he averaged 22.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. He made the All-Star game and was on an All-NBA team every year during this span and carried the Wolves throughout his prime. His best year was during the 2003-04 season when he averaged 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.2 blocks per game. He also led the Minnesota Timberwolves to the best record in the Western Conference this year and this led to him winning the MVP award that year. The Wolves made it to the Western Conference Finals this year before eventually losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games, but this season is a memorable one for both KG and Wolves fans.
To round out the frontcourt, KG will play alongside a prime Shaquille O’Neal. Similar to KG, Shaq was one of the best offensive AND defensive players during his prime and is said by many to be the most dominant player ever. During his prime years on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq would win an MVP award, make multiple All-Star games and All-NBA teams, and led the Lakers to three straight championships alongside Kobe Bryant. His best years started before he went to LA as he was a force on the Orlando Magic as well.
From the 1993-94 season to the 2002-03 season, Shaq averaged 28.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game on 57.8% shooting from the field. This frontcourt is scary both offensively and defensively and I doubt any team would be able to stop this tandem.
Paul Pierce would round out the Big three as he had a HOF career and had many years of dominance. Paul Pierce was a scoring machine in his prime and was able to score from anywhere on the court, just as Kevin Durant was. From 2000-01 to 2006-07, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game and shot 43.9% from the field and 35.8% from the three. He made the All-Star game 4 years and made an All-NBA team twice during this span and was vital to the Celtics’ success.
The team is rounded out with Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in the backcourt. Ray Allen was a sniper throughout his career and was a scoring machine during his prime. From 1999-00 to 2006-07, he averaged 23.3 points on 44.9% shooting from the field and 40.2% shooting from three. Ray, similar to everyone else mentioned, was a vital part to the success of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics.
Rondo is the perfect point guard to round out this team. Rondo played his role well during his time with the Celtics as the main ball handler and facilitator. From 2009-10 to 2012-13, he averaged 12.4 points and 10.8 assists per game as well as made the All-Star game every year during this span.
The only reason as to why this team isn’t 1st on this list is that the Lakers team is just better.
1. 2003/04 Los Angeles Lakers
This Lakers team is head and shoulders better than their competition. In the frontcourt, they have Shaq and Karl Malone. As said earlier, Shaq is considered by many to be the most dominant player in NBA history and terrorized the NBA with his never-before-seen size and athleticism for over a decade.
Karl Malone is known by many to be one of the best power forwards to ever play the game of basketball. From the 1987-88 season until the 1997-98 season, Karl Malone averaged 27.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game and shot 53.1% from the field. To add to this, he hadn’t averaged under 25 points per game in a season during this span and played in all but 4 games during this span. He made the all-star team and an All-NBA team every year during this span and won the MVP award twice.
The small forward of this team would be Devean George. George was a good three-pointer shooter in his career and would provide the team with spacing. Standing at 6’8 and weighing 220 pounds, George would be another big body on the team and would be a 3-D player for them.
In my opinion, the backcourt on this team is the best on the list. The point guard on this team is Gary Payton. Payton was known for his elite defensive abilities in his prime but, offensively he was great also. From the 1994-95 season to the 2001-02 season, Payton averaged 21.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game on 46.7% from the field and 32.7% from the three. Payton’s best attribute was his defense and during the same span, he averaged 2.2 steals per game, won the DPOY award, and made the All-Defensive First team every year during this span.
The Co-star to Shaq on this team is Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is a legend and has had many accomplishments during his illustrious 20-year career. In his prime, Kobe was a champion, an MVP, made multiple All-NBA teams and All-Star games, and was a juggernaut on offense and defense. During his prime years, from 2000 to 2013, he averaged 28.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 45.4% shooting from the field and 33.6% from three.
This team is the best team on this list as they have a combination of size, scoring, and defense. You have a backcourt of Kobe and Payton who will clamp you up on defense and then proceed to drop buckets on you. Devean George is a great “glue-guy” and someone who can do it all. The Mailman and Shaq also will dominate the post on offense and swat any shot you put up in the paint of defense.
Now, this list is purely based on my opinion but, all of these teams are very scary and will surely dominate.